This past June, Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler walked into a party full of drunk teenagers dancing on Skoal can-covered beer pong tables in Bethany Beach, Delaware. But did he, as Maryland's most powerful legal authority and a candidate for governor, do anything to stop it? Nope. He just found his teenage son, asked him a question, and left.
Unfortunately for Maryland's Coolest Dad, someone took the above picture (the Attorney General is behind the two shirtless teenagers, in the white shirt holding the phone) as he passed through the party, and posted it to Instagram. Word spread and now Gansler, who claims he saw no drinking at the party, is on the defensive.
"Assume for purposes of discussion that there was widespread drinking at this party," he told the Baltimore Sun, insisting that his son did not drink that night. "How is that relevant to me? … The question is, do I have any moral authority over other people's children at beach week in another state? Was I supposed to serve as the police officer? I say no."
Others, like the Century Council, a non-profit that works to fight teen drinking for whom Gansler filed a PSA earlier this year, disagree.
"Let me pick myself up off the floor here." Century Council's CEO and president Ralph Blackman told the Sun. "You can agree, you can disagree with the legal age," Blackman said, but Gansler was "somehow suggesting that it is OK to break the law. It's part of the value systems that go into young people's decision making."
Gansler was one of several parents who paid for the weeklong stay at the house for the teenagers, during Maryland's annual beach debauch following high school graduation. Two fathers were supposed to chaperone the house each night (perhaps they're the two in the upper right corner of the photo), and there were parent-written rules prohibiting the just-graduated teenagers from driving, having members of the opposite sex behind closed doors, and drinking “hard alcohol.”
"If anything bad happened, if the kids violated the rules, they'd be sent home," Gansler said. "My guess is ... that if someone drank beer, that would not be an offense for which the chaperones would want to send somebody home."
Sensible enough. The controversy, though, is just the latest for Gansler, who was already polling behind Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, his rival for the Democratic nomination for governor. From the National Journal:
Last week, the Washington Post published a lengthy account of Gansler's allegedly inappropriate behavior as a passenger in and driver of state-issued vehicles. The story, which included details about the Democrat ordering state troopers to speed and run red lights, has generated days worth of follow-up pieces, including stories in various publications across the state on Wednesday reporting that Gansler paid an overdue speeding ticket that was part of the initial Post story. Gansler also took heat in August when the Post published comments he made to supporters claiming that Brown, his chief rival for the Democratic nomination, was relying on his race in the campaign.
But forget politics: How was the party? "I don't remember much, but it was one of the best parties I've been to, hands down," one of the teenagers told the Baltimore Sun.